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tv   Today in Washington  CSPAN  April 15, 2011 6:00am-9:00am EDT

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arlington superintendent mr. patrick hallen nan. i hope, too, they're ready for very robust and direct questions. these officials will address ongoing discrepancies and issues relating to the 2010 army inspector general's investigation into misconduct at arlington. i anticipate a number of members from other committees may wish to participate. therefore, absent any objections i ask for unanimous consent they be allowed to participate and also be provided with an opportunity to ask questions. before he we get started with testimony, i'd like to share a story with you that highlights why i'm absolutely committed to addressing this issue. it's a story about an american hero who has dedicated his life to our nation and to others who serve. his name is paul buca. in 1970, army captain paul buca received the medal of honor in vietnam. captain buca distinguished
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himself by risking his life to save the lives of his fellow wounded soldiers. captain buca's story is the reminder of the thousands of other brave men and women in our nation's military who serve quietly and honorably, who all too often go unrecognized for their service and sacrifice and who willingly give up their lives in defense of freedom for all of us. mr. buca continues his life of service and has spoken on the issues that have plagued arlington, an he has stated, there is no place in the united states that is as committed to perfection as arlington. and, as a result, no solution to the issues or challenges at arlington can be accepted that strives for something less than perfection. the guardians of arlington are the men and women of the old guard. it is their self-imposed dedication to perfection from their performance of duty to their lifelong commitment to service that sets them apart. they established the standard
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for everyone who would pass among them and for those over whom they stand guard. those who they protect and guard, those who lie beneath the white markers so neatly placed across that hallowed ground, have a contract with all of us. their sacrifice on behalf of our nation was perfect in all respects, and it is our responsibility to similarly strive for perfection as well. there is no question that the department of army recognizes the importance of resolving outstanding accountability. however, progress towards full restoration and resolution of these issues has been unsatisfactory and is in no way commensurate with the service and sacrifice of our fallen heroes. our expectation is that each and every family affected by this scandal will have their issues addressed and hopefully their faith restored as a result of our work here today. our nation's heroes deserve better. today this committee is
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demanding perfect. i now turn to the ranking member mr. cooper for his remarks. mr. cooper? >> thank you, mr. chairman. in the interest of time, i'd like to insert written statement in the record. i commend you for holding this hearing. i'm sorry we have to have it, but i'm dedicated to working with you to make sure we solve these problems. >> thank you, mr. cooper. i appreciate that. with that, we are going to begin our first panel of witnesses. before hearing from our army representatives we're going to go to colonel koch. he has taken time out of his busy schedule to travel from his home in north carolina to be with us and share his experiencement i can't think of a better way to start a discussion about accountability than to hear from colonel koch. i appreciate him taking the time. we had a few minutes before the hearing to meet and talk and learn more about him and his commitment to our nation and his family. with that, i'll turn it over to you, colonel, and ask you to
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give us your thoughts, concerns and ideas about the current state of affairs there at arlington. i know you have some personal information there that is very compelling and useful to us as members of this committee. >> thank you. i was going to say i have good news and bad news. the bad news is i feel like the guy who was given the last cigarette and ready to be blindfolded. the good news is i don't notice any of you having any rifles so i think i'm pretty safe. and i guess that's going to be the only humor i come up with. i guess that's very little humor, but at least i guess it's a good start. what i'd like to talk about not a military hero but the wife of these heroes and the wife of all of the military folks who are also buried at arlington. arlington gives us the opportunity to have our wives with us for eternity, and i think that's great.
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this is my wife. excuse the shaking. when you get old, that's what happens. and this is her grave site as it was before august. and the back of it has the location, section 66, 1180. and for many years -- she died in 2005 -- i sent flowers to that location. just to show you, in summer and in winter. and and in june or july of last year i started reading about some problems at arlington, but none of them seemed to be associated with section 66 so it didn't bother me. i guess it should have anyway, but it didn't. and later on all of a sudden it started spreading to other
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sections, and then i started getting concerned. and arlington cemetery gave us a phone number to call. and i called that number and i said, i'd like to know if my wife is actually buried where you say she is, based on what i've been reading? and they took my information and said they'd call me back. about a week to ten days later they called me back and said, no problem, we checked all our records, everything is fine. well, that was good. i felt good about that because i had been visiting her regularly and everything was good. about a week later, i got a call from an army officer saying, we have a problem. he explained it this way, and i have here a picture of the three grave sites that were affected by this. there's my wife's as an army staff sergeant and a navy commander's wife. what he told me was the wife of
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the army staff sergeant had her husband's grave site dug up to prove that he was, in fact, buried there. and when they dug it up, they found a wooden casket, only he had been buried in a metal casket. and somehow they realized that my wife had been buried in a wooden casket and so they went one grave site over and dug in my wife's grave site and it was empty. so they went one grave site the other way and they found the urn the woman had been yes mated for the wife of the navy commander and dug deeper and found the staff sergeant's casket. my understanding is that he is now buried somewhere else at arlington. my wife, they left her in the new grave site and she is -- and put a new headstone on her where
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she was originally supposed to be buried they buried someone else. now, over that almost five years i sent flowers, as you could see, i sent wreaths at christ s christmas. i even took her mother up there so she could see her daughter's grave site. and all she saw was a head ston and an empty grave. so i went from being elated when i was told everything was okay to being very, very sad -- maybe "sad" is the wrong word, but i was no longer elated. so what happened next is everything looks the same with the headstone, only now on the back it's got section 66 1181 instead of 1180 because she's moved over. i put this one in there because
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this is the first flowers that i sent her, and i knew she was there. no longer was i sending flowers to an empty grave. and i found a picture i think in a newspaper that kind of tells the story better than i can. i think it's a beautiful picture. but if you look, right behind this headstone, the front headstone, is where my wife was supposed to have been buried. and you'll notice there's no headstone back thereme. she's now over here with her new headstone. so it kind of tells the story of what went on at arlington during this time. and i guess -- i've been interviewed by several news media, and i've told the same story. i was asked what do i expect to get out of this hearing. and i said, i guess two things.
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i wasn't going to mention two things. i only was going to mention one, but i think i better mention two. first of all, i wanted people out there to know that there is a problem at arlington. a lot of people probably read about it but there may still be families out there that are going to visit an empty grave or a grave with supposed to be john smith and it's mary jones. i think that needs to be corrected as best they can. and the other part is, the people that were in charge that caused all this, from my point of view and from what i've been able to read, have been given a slap on the wrist. and i don't want revenge. i want justice. i think that's the only fair thing that we, the people who have been involved in this -- and it's not just me. there are many others that have been through similar situations -- expect from arlington, the army, and i guess from the congress.
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with that, i'll take any questions. >> thank you, colonel koch. we really appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us. it's very heart wrenching to go to arlington and believe your wife was in one place and she was not. we appreciate your service to our nation. i want to begin by asking you how you felt after you first realized that through the years your wife wasn't located where she was supposed to be and what your feeling was there as far as the trust that you had in arlington and the expectation that you had with the folks there at arlington and how that cemetery is run. >> well, the first thing, like i say, i was elated because there were no problems. and when i got the second call, i think i was in shock at first. then i guess i was angry. and then i got over that and
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said, i think it's time something is done. first i'm i went to arlington i was a high school senior. and watching or wandering through all those grave sites, it was awesome. and i've been to some cemeteries in super also from world war ii. if you've ever been to them, it's a similar type situation. you get the same feeling. but this is in our own country. this is our major national military cemetery, and it's not something we should be putting up with. and i guess, having been in the air force for 30 years, i'm not as emotional externally as some people are. and i don't apologize for that. i just know that after i found out about this and was home, it was harder being home than it was before i had found out.
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>> thank you. let me ask, from your perspective today, in what you went through and the efforts to resolve this problem, do you feel, number one, that you were dealt with fairly and that the problem was directly addressed and that it was solved in the best way possible? and, secondly, do you believe, based on your experience, that the folks currently at arlington have the wherewithal to continue to manage that facility the way it needs to be managed? >> well, for your first question, when we had the burial for my wife, everything went well. everything was perfect. except it was done after some very heavy rain so we never did get to see the casket lowered into the ground, which probably was good. but there was -- i mean, when
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you walked on the grass, it was slish slish slish. so we never did get to see it buried and there was a little card that i had her name on where she was supposed to be buried. now, whether that was 1180 or 1181 i don't remember. but we were treated well at arlington. everything went smoothly. we had an air force sort of honor guard of pallbearers. i can't say anything bad about that whole situation. the only thing bad i can say about that process was not arlington's fault. it was the va. my wife as a minister. they wouldn't let me put reverend under her name. and on the new headstone they let me put "reverend" on it but they put it under my name. so i want you all to know i'm not a reverend. my wife was. as to what they're doing today, having read some things about it, i think they're probably
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going in the right direction. they have a terrific task. i don't know how they're ever going to go back. i think i mentioned to you earlier that the only way i can see to solve the problem is do dna testing on every body in arlington, and we know that's never going to happen and it's not something that is even i don't think financially possible. but how do you know that this person that's in this grave, even though it's a yun for one grave versus headstone, it's the right person? i don't know how they're going to figure that out. >> i think that's something compelling that this nation needs to be assured and that is it there's 100% certainty about every grave and every set of remains there at arlington. i think that's something we owe to our men and women in uniform obviously. from your standpoint, do you see there are more things at arlington, they can do to restore the trust not only of
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the mr members of the military families and those buried there but of the american people. >> i think it would be nice if there was some way they could maybe notify the families of all the people there that they've had problems, that people should check and make sure their loved one is there and see if they can somehow work that out. like i say, if the lady had not had her husband dug up, this is something i've been thinking about, and, say, 20 years from now i died and they dug up the grave site to put me in it, expecting my wife to be there and it was empty, what would happen? would they just put me in there and bury it and say, okay, it's all done or would they have gone and checked and said, she's over here and buried me over there. i don't have an answer to that. maybe they can answer that one for you. but that's looking out a long
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time -- hopefully a long time in the future. but, yeah, i don't know everything they're doing so i can't answer for what the people at arlingtong are ton are doing right or 25% right or 50% right. >> thank you, colonel. i'll turn to mr. cooper. >> thank you, chierman. thank you, colonel. i'm grateful to your service for our nation. i'm sorry you've been treated this way. nobody should have to undergo this. this will probably go down as one of the biggest snafus in the history of the u.s. army to have allowed arlington cemetery, the most honored and sacred of places to be mismanaged in this fashion. so we are working on a bipartisan basis to make sure these problems are are corrected as quickly as possible. i hope that we can get a handle on this immediately if not sooner. already there have been years of
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problems a s delays. we just regret the experience that you face. so if there necessary anything we can do, we're there for you. thank you, sir. >> i would say the thing you can do is keep after them. don't let them stop. keep after them. make sure they're doing it just like you're doing today. and don't let up now. facetiously, earlier today i met some air force guys and they asked me why i was here and i told them. i also told them, i said, if the airs for air force were in charge of arlington this wouldn't have happened. >> colonel, i think you have my commitment, mr. p cooper's kmemt and the members of the committee's commitment that we will not rest until we have absolute certainty of the remains and everything managed there and the mismanagement of a arlington. >> can i say one thing also? ask the media to keep it up
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also. >> we will definitely do that. mr. conway? >> i don't have any questions other than i came in right in kind of the -- are you comfortable your wife is buried where you believe she's buried? did i understand that? are you comfortable that your wife is pwri buried where you believe she's buried? >> i'm probably 98% or 99% sure. i'll tell you, when they notified me, i called the funeral director that handled her burial and funeral. and i said, how do you identify bodies and how does arlington do did? and the man told me that the funeral parlor has to put a little tag or something in the casket that has name and date of birth and arlington puts a little tag on the casket externally. so i called arlington and said, i was told that this happened
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and the answer i got was, we are doing it now, which implies to me that they were not doing it prior to that time, which was probably in august or september. >> well, there's no delicate way to ask this. during part of this process, did they determine your wife's remains were in that casket? did they open it up? >> they did nothing to do that. they never told me they did anything, but they assumed because it was a wooden casket and apparently there's not that many okayeden caskets buried there, and it was in the general area of where she was supposed to be. >> okay. >> i don't have 100% proof. let ame put it that way. i kind of feel comfortable that it's okay, but i couldn't say 100%. >> well, my apologies. i'm sorry this happened as well. i buried a wife also one time
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and so i've got a sense of what you went through, what you've gone through. i'm sorry you went through that. i yield back. >> thank you, mr. conway. mr. young? >> connell koch, thank you so much for your service and i, of course, mean your military service but also your presence here today. i appreciate receiving your testimony and i guess i wanted to express to you the gratitude i have for some of the real human impact that these complications have created for you and others around the country. and i just would like to say one of the things i think i will be focused on moving forward as we try to rectify these issues is enis suring that the concerns of our surviving military family members are addressed throughout the process that we're involving you as we make such important
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decisions as disinternment, reinternment and we draw on your wisdom and frankly your feels as we try to handle these matters delicately. there's some organizations out there that i've become aware of that have provided some thoughts on how we might involve you in the process moving forward, the tragedy assistance program for survivors has a number of good suggestions i think. perhaps we can talk about implementing some of those. really i just want to say thank you, sir. you are doing great credit to the military services and to our citizenry by your presence and testimony here today. god bless you. >> excuse me. could i say one thing? >> yes, colonel. please. >> i've got to remember trouble when you get old, you forget things faster than you should. let me think about it. i'll think about it. >> we will come back to you, i
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guarantee. guarantee. mr. rooney? >> sir, when you say the people that were responsible for the errors -- i'm sorry, i came in late. if i could ask a question before i ask a backup question, when your wife -- when you were at the site and you say that it was raining and you didn't actually see the casket go into the ground, how did it go from there to not going into the ground there, if you could back up? i apologize for coming in late and i didn't hear if you said that in your opening testimony. what's your understanding of how there was a mix-up? >> i don't have an angs fswer f that. i don't know how it got mixed up other than the fact -- see, it wasn't just my wife's that was mixed up. it was also the staff sergeant. it was also the navy commander's grave site. so really there were three grave
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sites in that one area. so apparently some of the worker bees must have either not follow the procedures or did something they shouldn't have or didn't have some supervisor or something there to make sure they did it right. how they got it wrong i don't note because like i say there was a card there with her name on it. the thing i didn't know is whether it was the correct grave site or not. because we couldn't even bring the casket up to that location it was so wet. >> and, sir, you say in your testimony that those that were responsible for this received a slap on the wrist. do you know what entailed? what was the slap on the wrist? >> my understanding is they were given letters of reprimand. in the last paragraph i believe of the letter of represent ary mand it said, this will be taken out of your records when you retire.
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in other words, once they retired, it was as if this whole situation never occurred. >> thank you, sir. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> all right. thank you mrshgs rooney. mr. kaufman. >> thank you, mr. chairman and colonel koch, thank you for your service to our country and willingnesses to come before this committee. again, my apologies for what's occurred to you and your family. help me out here. i understand there was inclement weather so because of that you didn't see your wife's dafkt go into the ground. is it normal procedure in arlington that in weather conditions where there's not increment weather that one would observe that the family would observe the casket going into the grave site?
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>> i really can't answer that. i think you should ask -- >> very well. that will be a question we raise to the staff at arlington. what was the attitude, in your communications with the staff at arlington, the graves registration staff or whatever if there's a civilian term for it i'm not familiar with it. tell me about the course or the conduct of those communications. i mean, were they bureaucratic? were they sympathetic? how would you describe them? >> certainly they were sympathetic. when i spoke with the funeral director, he said, well, it's probable apply going to be several weeks before we'll be able to do the burial. and the night that we had the viewing in raleigh, he came to me and said, it's going to be on
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the 6th of january and she had died on the 20th of december. so it was probably as quick as i would have even thought of. the man that dealt with us the day of the actual burial was as nice could be. like i say, the only complaint i had was not at that point with arlington, it was with the va and my concerns about the headstone. then the burial itself, as far as it went -- >> when you were first notified, the communications at the point in time where you realized there was a problem and you had contacted the staff at arlington, tell me about those communications and how they went. >> i went back too far i think. >> that's fine. >> it was an army lieutenant colonel. he he called me up, left me a message and said something like, we've got a problem. no. he said, please call this
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number. when i called him, he then told me there was a problemment he explained it to me exactly. now i remember what i was going to mention to mr. young. they dug up my wife's grave and someone said, i thought that was illegal to dig up a grave without permission. and i don't know if that's true or not. they'd have to ask the legal people, but that was the concern more people had than i did. anyway, everybody i dealt with in the building where they bring the families, everything there was fine, had no problems. they escorted us to our cars, took us out to the grave site, waited for us, went back. showed us how the car should be settle u set up. i have no complaints about that part of it. the lieutenant colonel was very nice. he explained it. he did not try to make excuses. he said, here's the fact.
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i think that's what i like about the military. they don't try to make excuses. they tell you the facts. if you don't like the facts, tough luck. but yeah, everything from that point of view was i think okay other than the fact that i didn't like what he was telling me. >> sure. >> not how he was telling me but what he was telling me. >> would the gentleman yield just for a moment? >> yes. >> sir, you indicated, just to make sure we have this correct here, that your wife's remains were dug up without any consultation with you? is that correct? >> not exactly. what it was was they dug up the grave site where she actually was, which was the staff sergeant's grave site, so they had permission of the wife of the staff sergeant to dick dig th -- dig that up. then they went to my wife's grave site and dug that up not knowing if she was there or not until they dug and found she
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wasn't. >> thank you. i thought i missed something there. i appreciate that. troubling nonetheless. >> mr. chairman, i yield back. >> thank you, mr. coffman. mr. runyon. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i know some of the other members may wonder why i'm sitting down here. i'm a member of hask but also chairman of the veterans committee, disabilities and memorials. oversight of our scemeteries an arlington is one of my primary issues i deal with. colonel koch, thank you for your service and thank you for sharing your story with us. you know, it was literally my second month in office and i had a similar constituent complaint much like you had. i've since been over to arlington and it was fixed rapidly. i think many people in this
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complete comforted in knowing i think we're moving in the right direction. and i look forward to their testimony, but in the situation i would like to smair the stwenlt i had. i had a gentleman reach out to my office the first of march that his nephew came down to visit his grandfather's grave site athere was a different headstone on the grave site. it was shocking to hem. i reached out to arlington, they fixed the problem, identified the problem, and it was obviously a human error issue that had happened when someone had buried their spouse along with them and it got put in the wrong part of the graveyard. but it was fixed. i look forward -- appreciate the opportunity to be here, but i look forward to tackling this also on the va side with several more hearings to make sure we're moving in the right direction.
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because stories like yours, unfortunate unfortunately, they're not one of a kind. they happen all the time. that's really why we're having this hearing. thank you again for sharing your story with us today. >> thank you. >> i yield back. >> the va cemeteries appear to be run pretty well, from what i understand. maybe they're smaller, maybe they're not in such a situation that maybe it's easier to handle. but i was going to say in the military i was a navigator in vietnam and we always had checklists. you would have the checklist and you would check things off. now, i don't know if arlington has a check list. i hope they do. and it says, call this person, check, we did this, initial it. here's who did it. call this person, dig a hole --
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a grave site. sorry about that. but do each step of the process and have somebody sign off on it. at the end, the last guy signs off and says, these are all done. now you know this person is buried at this section, this grave site. everybody has done their part. we don't have to worry about that one. we can check that one of. let's go on to the next one. >> mr. chairman, you yield for a one second? >> yes, please. >> just to let you know, colonel, we stole the superintendent to arlington from the va. i yield back. >> thank you, mr. runyon, appreciate you joining this, your interest in this. we look forward to making sure those issues there at arlington with indeidre solved. colonel, thank you so much for taking your time. i do want to offer to the committee members if anybody has additional questions, now would be the time to pose them. if not, we would move again into
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recess. i would opt floor for questions. >> mr. claireman, if i could. >> yes. >> colonel koch, when you were told that the identification card -- that the identification card was supposed to be placed in the casket again? what was their response again, that they just started doing that, or sometime after your wife passed they started doing that. what's the response again? >> the card from the funeral director apparently -- the funeral director told me by law they have to put that inside the casket. the one yien yout side, it sound as if they had done it for a while and they stopped or they never done it even though people thought they were doing it. >> thank you, mr. chairmanful i
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yield back. >> i'm not going to be able to make it back for the next panel so i just wanted to stay, colonel, thank you for your testimoniment i think that the thing that gets me personally so upset about your situation and the situation that mr. runyon is talking about is, you know, if you go to arlington and you go to the changing of the guard and the tomb of the unknown soldier and the reverence we have for soldiers or servicemen that we don't know quite -- we're not quite sure who they are, but we have that p much respect our see the president last year going up to dover air force base and the somber mood of those soldiers coming home. and yet we make what could very well just be human error,
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there's no excuse. we revere so many who died for this country, that we would have so much honor and pomp and circumstance for the changing of t the guard but at the same time making these mistakes in the same place, same venue, it's unconscionable and i'm sorry you had to go through this, on behalf of myself and i'm sure the rest of this body. and i'm sorry i'm not going to be here for the next block, but i hope everything is moving forward squared away. >> i think we have more than one unknown soldier in arlington now. there may be multiples spread out over the whole cemetery, unfortunately. >> yes, sir. thank you. >> all right. thank you, colonel koch. any other questions for the colonel? >> mr. chairman, just very quickly. when was your wife buried again intern? >> she died on december 20th and was buried on the 6th of
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january. they died in 2005 on the 20 th f december and was buried january 6th in 2006. >> in the associated graves of the -- i think you talked about a staff sergeant and a commander's wife? >> commander. >> do you remember at all when they were interned? >> no, i don't. >> all right. >> thank you, mr. coffman. colonel koch, thank you again. we appreciate your time. we know this is a very difficult situation for you to come in here and share your experience but it's extraordinary helpful to us to have an experience, a face, a person associated with the issues we're dealing with at arl ton the i deeply, deeply appreciate thatment thank you for taking your time coming here from north carolina and sharing what i know is a very personal situation with us. >> well, thank you for inviting me, and i don't know if anybody
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saw, but there was a picture up there of my wife and i. and that was the last picture ever taken of her. there it is. she was a very beautiful lady, and i still miss her. but i've gotten over some of it. you never get over it all. you get over a little bit of it, and i wish she were still here and i didn't have to sit here and talk about her. thank y'all for inviting me. >> we'll keep you and your wife in our prayers. thank you for sharing with us today. with that, i'll recess the oversight armed services subcommittee while we vote on the floor. we'll reconvene five minutes after the vote on the floor.
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> the oversight investigation is back to order we will begin with the next panel of a witnesses.tional we welcome you to the committeei and look forward to your openin statements. >> mr. chairman, and distinguished pillars ofmi the >> mr. chairman and distinguished members of the providethan the subcommittee hallinan who is the
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superintendent of arlington and mr. karl schneider who is the principal deputy assistant secretary of the army for manpower reserve affairs. as the executive director responsible for both u.s. soldier and airman's home national cemetery and arlington national cemetery, i want you to know that the army is committed to rendering public honor and recognition through dignified burial services for members of our armed services and their loved ones. on behalf of the cemeteries and the department of the army, i would like to thank congress for the support that they have provided over the years, but in particular, sir, i would like to thank you and the members for the support you have provided mr. hallinan and i in our first ten months on the job. as executive director, i report directly to the secretary of the army. and it is my responsibility now to effectively and efficiently develop, operate, manage, and
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administer both of the cemeteries. mr. hallinan is the superintendent is responsible for the daily operations. i know that the past serious mismanagement of arlington national cemetery has caused great consternation to the american public, to congress, but, most importantly, to our veterans and their loved ones. the news reports combined with the inspector general report have shattered the trust in arlington. i am here today to personally tell you that arglington cemetey has the full support of the army, and we are moving forward to fix the problems found by the inspector general. and we will comply with the legislative requirements that will continue to correct the mistakes of the past, while ensuring future strong management, oversight, and, most importantly, accountability. in less than a year we have taken several steps to address the past issues, including rebuilding the workforce,
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overhauling the automated internment scheduling system, establishing a consolidated call center, implementing a financial management system and a procurement system, and employing a new chain of custody for procedures that weren't there before. arlington national cemetery as you know conducts 27 funerals a day. we consider it part of our sacred trust to ensure that each funeral is executed with utmost dignity and respect. every funeral receives mr. hallinan and my full attention to detail. daily operations are critical to maintaining one of the unique traditions of arlington national cemetery, multiple, simultaneous, private grave site internments with full military honors. neither the importance nor the complexity of this tradition can be overstated. to establish accountability while maintaining these traditions, standards were developed throughout the operations which didn't exist
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before. in addition, we have procured new equipment. we are training the workforce to implement the standards that we've put in place, and we are now holding our supervisors and leaders accountable for the operations. arlington national cemetery is truly about those who have served. it provides a means for families, friends, and the country to honor our fallen veterans. hence, customer service is a critical priority, because our goal is to help each and every family come to closure. while we are making progress to date to improve service to our veterans and their loved ones, improvements still must continue. we firmly believe in continuous process improvements, and we are working every day to establish and improve feedback mechanisms to increase our understanding of family needs and concerns. one of the biggest concerns upon
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arrival were the paper records and the lack of any backup of this information. we've been able to recover images from the efforts in 2005, to scan the records that were beginning in the civil war. these images have been integrated with va's records in our internment schedule system records into a searchab ablable database that now provides both a digital tool and, more importantly, a backup for the vast majority of those authoritative records. this database will be expanded and is forming the basis for the accounting effort that's been mandated by public law. we hope that we can highlight today the actions that we have taken to change and demonstrate the progress that has been and continues to be made to restore the nation's confidence in arlington national cemetery. mr. chairman, this concludes my testimony. >> thank you, miss condon. i will offer an opportunity to mr. hallinan or mr. schneider
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have any opening comments they'd like to make, i'll take them at this time. >> mr. chairman, distinguished members of the subcommittee, i thank you for the opportunity to speak to you about arlington national cemetery. i was appointed the superintendent of arlington national cemetery on october 10th, 2010, and i served as the acting sum of arlington national cemetery since june 6, 2010. this is my first opportunity to speak before congress. miss condon and i started at arlington national cemetery on the same day. i came over as a subject matter expert on the detail. at the request of the secretary of the army and the direction of the secretary of the va, to provide assistance with cemetery operations. i was formally the director of fuel programs for the national cemetery administration department of veterans affairs, and in that capacity i was responsible for policies, procedures, their implementation and development on cemetery operations and provide guidance to all national cemeteries. i also had oversight responsibility for 131 national
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cemeteries, 5 memorial service networks and helped to establish the national training academy for the national cemetery administration. i bring my commitment and that expertise to arlington national cemetery. i began my career, mr. chairman, in federal service as a marine, on my honorable discharge from the marine corps, i took a position with the national cemetery administration as a temporary caretaker. my entire life has been devoted to cemetery operations. as i look back on my 37-year career, i view my appointment as sum of arlington to be the high point. i am committed to being a part of a team that fixes the many problems that we're all aware of. and some we may also discover. as miss condon mentioned in her testimony, in less than one year, 10 months, we have taken several steps to address the problems. we've introduced industry standards, national standards that the va has used at their cemeteries and other national
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cemeteries that private industry use. we sent our employees out for professional training. we're training our employees on site. we purchased new equipment. we're providing the leadership and direction that they need. i am personally out on a daily basis, no matter the weather conditions, snow or rain, directing, leading, guiding, coaching, mentoring, holding the supervisors, the team leaders, and the entire workforce accountable. i will say that the workforce has responded in a positive manner, and i have seen improvements. while i freely admit there is much improvement to be made. arlington national cemetery is hallowed ground. it is the place where america's heroes lie in rest. as a veteran, as a father of a marine, and most importantly as a person who has dedicated his entire life to service to our military families, i am honored
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to be the superintendent, and i am committed to fix the mistakes of the past and restore the public faith and trust in the operations of arlington national cemetery. i thank you for allowing me to be here today. >> thank you, mr. hallinan. mr. schneider? >> mr. chairman, i don't have a statement. i am here, though, as the army's senior career civilian personnel. i have over 30 years of service with experience both military and civilian personnel, and the secretary of the army has asked me to appear here today to answer your questions about the personnel actions related to arlington national cemetery. happy to take your questions, sir. >> thank you, members of the panel. we appreciate your opening statements. and at this point we'll begin the line of questioning. i want to begin with you, miss condon, and i'll move over to mr. hallinan. full faith and trust in arlington national cemetery is i think critical not just to the men and women that are interred
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there but to this nation. it is a symbol of what is right and what is just and how we honor the fallen. my question is this -- we have heard from the secretary when he testified before the full committee, and his words were he pledged to do everything necessary and possible to right the unimaginable and unacceptable wrongs that have taken place. that means 100% accountability, 100% auditing to make sure that everything at arlington both past and present is beyond reproach. it seems to me that now we learn that the army doesn't plan on following up with that promise, that there's not going to be 100% certainty in identification of remains, we won't use every means possible to make sure that we take up the concerns of families that may not know with certainty the placement of their loved ones there. also, it's clear to me today by
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both the secretary and the army inspector general not being here for this hearing that they don't take this very seriously. and i'm wondering from your standpoint, i'll first ask, is the army really serious about 100% accountability and making sure that we do everything to assure that there is not a single set of remains there that's misidentified, misplaced, and that families have full closure on that? and is it difficult for you to work under a circumstance where you come here, obviously you're committed, but it doesn't seem like the secretary or the ig are taking this seriously, it must be kind of frustrating for you not to have the people above you taking this issue at arlington seriously. and i will look for your comments. >> sir, i can tell you personally that the entire army, to include the secretary and the inspector general, do take the issues at arlington -- >> miss condon, i hate to say this, but words fail in this situation. it's obvious that they have something better to do today than to make sure that arlington is beyond reproach with how we
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treat the men and women who have served this nation. what else on their schedule can be more important than that? it's obvious that they don't get it. and i know it's frustrating for you to work under those conditions, and words fail. actions speak louder than words. >> and, sir, actions do speak louder than words, and you have the commitment of mr. hallinan and myself that we truly are putting together the steps that need to be taken to do the accountability at arlington. i'd like to use the analogy that when we started in june, we were almost -- we moved into a house that didn't have a foundation. there wasn't an i.t. infrastructure. there wasn't the accountability. there wasn't the standards and procedures. so, what we've had to do was to build that first. and now we are working on the plan to truly move to do the accountability. >> will we be assured that not only going forward that we have
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the accountability, but that accountability will be held in context of what's happened in the past? i think that's critical for families to have closure and to make sure, too, that the wrongs of the past are righted in relation to making sure we assure families with 100% certainty about the identification, the location, of their loved ones. >> and, sir, we will work for the accountability from june 10th forward, when mr. hallinan and i started, and we will work on every grave site in arlington. >> very good. mr. hallinan? >> in support of what miss condon has stated, you have our commitment, sir. the subcommittee, the families, and the american public that we will correct the problems of the past and ensure that from an operational standpoint, from a maintenance standpoint, that arlington is run to the highest standards. and we also have a focus on customer service, the need to be
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compassionate, the need to be sympathetic, the need to be understanding, realizing that there are real operational systemic issues that need to be repaired and fixed, but at the same time we do not lose a sense of the families you're dealing with and the grief and the trauma they may be going through. >> thank you. mr. schneider, can you comment on the accountability element? obviously there have been wrongs in the past. can you update us on where the army is? obviously the inspector general is doing something, hopefully he's doing something, maybe he's not, maybe that's why he's not here today. maybe you can give ussen update to make sure that folks are held accountable for the mistakes of the past. >> the frustrating thing about that, i'm sure it's frustrating for the committee, it's frustrating to us, the superintendent and the deputy superintendent as soon as the report, right after the report was delivered to the secretary, retired. and our jurisdiction to take any adverse action against them evaporated the day that they
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retired. >> well, i understand that the retirement was not necessarily a voluntary retirement. but anyway, that being said, it is perplexing i think to both the committee, subcommittee, and the public that a letter reprimand was in the file to be removed six months later and that's the extent of how folks in the past have been held accountable, and i would want to know from you where is the progress with the inspector general? we hear that there's an ongoing investigation. can we expect that to come to a conclusion? can we expect actions from that investigation? >> again, i think what you can expect -- yes, i think that will be brought to conclusion. although i haven't -- i don't tract the inspector general investigation. what i can tell you is, the secretary has told all of us that he expects accountability to be one of our top priorities. and to the extent that the inspector general report identifies either poor performance or misconduct, the secretary will expect us to ensure that,ability abilthat,
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held. the frustrating thing is that the way the civil service laws works, the tools we have available to us, especially when people are retirement eligible, once they retire, we have no control. we have no control of when they retire. they can retire at any time. and once they retire, we lose the opportunity to do anything more to hold them accountable. for example, with the letter reprimand to the superintendent, that was as much as the secretary could get done before he retired. >> isn't it correct, though, that that is limited to administrative procedures to folks that behave, if there's criminal behavior there, they fall under the criminal statutes, so that doesn't exempt them from their senior executive service from being prosecuted if they are found to be criminally -- criminal wrong doing and >> what the criminal command does is they coordinate with the u.s. attorney who has jurisdiction and it's up to the u.s. attorney to obviously
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decide if it's a civilian. if it's military, it's under the military chain of command. and with civilians it would rest with the u.s. attorney and for the case of arlington, probably the eastern district of virginia. >> is the inspector general pursuing all courses of action concerning past actions there by personnel both civil and criminal? of course, on the civil side obviously that would be the administrative element that you speak of, but even on the criminal side? >> if they discover criminal activity, they turn it over to the army's criminal investigation committee -- >> i guess the question is, are they looking at the potential for criminal activity there? >> sorry. i think whenever they find criminal activity, they turn it over to the cid, and i think they're committed -- i guess what would be best to do is to get for the record exactly what the department of the army inspector general is doing in this area so you can see exactly where they're at. >> i think that would be nice, mr. schneider. we'll certainly submit some questions in writing, although it would have been nice for the inspector general to be here today. as i said, obviously, he doesn't
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feel it's very serious, so we will certainly pose some formal questions to him and gauge his seriousness with this -- with this effort. >> yes, sir. >> one other line of questioning, and then i'm going to turn it over to the other members of the committee. normally if you look at situations throughout other parts of the military, there's a certain standard and procedure that folks go through, and i know that you all had spoken of the heavy workload that's there and the things you have to deal with each and every day, the maintenance and the burials and those kind of things. but it seems to be standard practice in other branches of the military when you have something of this magnitude that happens, in this instance, i think a tragedy, and whether it's a plane going down in another branch of the military, whatever, normally those branches have a stand-down. they say, okay, we're going to stand things down. we're going to really get down to what caused this problem. it doesn't seem like in this situation that there's been a stand-down, that there's been the direction or the redirection
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to say not only are we going to make sure that things are happening properly going forward, but that we're going to make sure that those problems that have happened in the past are taken care of. if you look at stand-down procedures throughout the military, that's normally the course of procedure. i'd like your comments on why in this situation there doesn't seem to have been a stand-down that not only addresses things going forward. and like i said, i want to give you all credit for the things that are going on, going forward, although i still think there are things that need to happen there, but what has happened with problems that occurred in the mast and how do we resolve those particular issues? >> sir, if i could, i'm very familiar with stand-down procedures in the military, and i like to think that mr. hallinan and i really did that. in order for us to do all the changes that we are making going forward, we had to correct those issues in the past, and that is what we have been doing. >> very good. mr. young? >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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i want to thank our panel for being here today. mr. hallinan, i'm a marine, too, and i know you understand the ethics semper fidelis, for those who are watching the hearing today, the origin of sempe semper fidelis, the marine corps motto, it takes to the seriousness with which marine corps regard loyalty to their fellow marines. it extends not only to the living, always faithful, even extends to those who happen to pass away, on the battlefield, and it's the marine corps tradition even under the most difficult of circumstances to retrieve those who have departed in service to our country from the battlefield, even if that requires great danger to our fellow soldiers. i think that speaks to the sort of commitment all of us have as a country to those who have departed and all of their families. in this case we know we have unmarked and mismarked graves, we have the existence of a mass
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grave. so many other things that it sort of boggles the mind here, and we're working here constructively i hope to address these problems. i am quite disappointed as a member of this subcommittee that invitations went out to the secretary of the army, the army inspector general, and i want to say it puts all of you in a very difficult position, because one of the first things a young lieutenant learns in the military is you can delegate responsibility, but not accountability. so, any inadequacies we might discover here today are not -- don't just reside with you. ultimately accountability, we understand, is a bit higher in the food chain, and hopefully we can -- we can speak to the ig and the secretary in due course. we can honor the memory by dealing with the grief and trauma, as mr. hallinan put it, of family members. and what i want to most learn about from you is whether you
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individuals, mr. hallinan, miss condon, mr. schneider, have reached out to each and every family that's been impacted by this scandal. and if so, how that has taken place and any other details that you think might be useful to this panel. >> sir, if i could start. each and every time that we have discovered a discrepancy in arlington, the first people that we do contact are the next of kin. >> when we do discover the discrepancy, if there is an issue with the grave site, we are required to contact the next of kin. we cannot arbitrarily go into a person's grave site, so we are trying to be -- we are being transparent. we are contacting the families. >> and does that involve sending a letter, or through what means do you contact the family members? >> sir, we try to contact them via phone so that we talk to them rather than a letter. and if we cannot reach them by telephone, we follow-up with a letter. >> and presumably we have a log,
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records, of all the contacts that have been made and the results of said contact? >> sir, for all the scr discrepancies, you know, most of them have been via telephone and we've been very fortunate to contact the next of kin. >> are -- is there a further plan of engagement of family members moving forward? and if so, what is that plan? >> sir, one of the things that mr. hallinan and i have done is we have had a town hall with goldstar families, and what it was, it was our opportunity to have those family members who have lost a loved one talk to us about what they would expect the new leadership team at arlington to discuss with them and any other family member that is in a situation that we have encountered to date. >> as someone who holds many town hall meetings, i know those are useful, but their reach can sometimes be limited. so, what sort of participation do you have in these town hall meetings?
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and what proportion of the overall family universe that's been impacted by this tragedy does it touch, your town hall? >> sir, that town hall meeting was put on by taps, and that was the organization that i think did send a letter to you, congressman. and it was the first -- they were the ones who orchestrated our first town hall. the means that we're trying to do to reach our family is via our website, you know, that is one of the means of communication that we are using for any issue that we have at the cemetery. and we're constantly trying to improve that medium as well. >> now, i know websites, many of us check them regularly especially when they have valuable content. but i know many people do not, and they're not comfortable with computers, perhaps don't even own them. so, are you doing other things in addition to updating a website to keep the family members engaged and fully informed of progress? is there a help line? is there an intermediary between
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government, which sometimes can be a sterile organization, and the impacted families? >> yes, sir. as a matter of fact, on the first day on the job when the inspector general hit, we immediately set up a call center hotline, and it was a telephone -- where members who read this in the media could call us. we now have a consolidated call center, which is a toll-free number for anyone who can call in to the cemetery. that didn't exist before. prior to mr. hallinan and i and the call center, we really couldn't tell you how many people were trying to contact the cemetery, whether it was for something as simple as a direction to get a parking pass or if they truly had an issue or if they were going to schedule a service for their loved ones. right now we receive over 200 phone calls a day into the cemetery, which 45 of those are for families who are trying to schedule services to have their individuals buried.
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so, that is the means that we are -- that the call number at the call center, weens every call now that comes in to the cemetery. >> can you speak to any specific programs or things that you've implemented to ensure continuous improvement of engagement and information being passed down to the families? for example, surveying them, asking them what sorts of improvements you might make to better inform them of future developments? >> and, sir, we are working on that. as i said, we are trying to build a foundation. what we had to really do is to build the i.t. architecture in the cemetery to even have the means to put out a survey electronically, but that is one of the future plans that we are having. we are also putting out a new burial guide that truly is a guide that will really answer a lot of the questions that individuals have that before they just didn't have a place to go, which will lay -- which will outline all of the places of how
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you can contact anyone in the cemetery. >> and, finally, i'm curious about a related matter. i know many family members care deeply about the mementos that are left at these grave sites, particularly military grave sites. there's a real history of that. does arlington national cemetery now operate some sort of system for protecting these mementos, properly cataloging them, and then allowing family members to access them, this information, in a reliable way? >> sir, the mementos are collected in section sixes, which is where most of the current casualties from the wars are. and we have our center for military history is collecting those mementos and cataloging them, and that is one of the long-term plans that is on my plate to decide how do we long term, you know, capture those mementos and how, you know, for future generations so that we don't lose that.
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>> so, that process has not been fully developed as yet, is that correct? >> right. it is still a pilot, but we are still collecting the mementos and cataloging them, but we've not finalized, you know, what we're going to do for the future on that. >> do you have a time frame by which you intend to implement? >> sir, i don't have the exact date, but, you know, it is something that i will take as a do-out and i will work with the center of military history, you know, what is the best time to transition for that. >> well, i will, and i know many of my colleagues will, continue to keep their finger in the pulse of all of these different lines of inquiry, and i expect you'll keep us informed every step of the way. >> certainly will. >> all right. thank you much. >> thank you, mr. young. mr. coffman? >> thank you, mr. chairman. i understand we've changed leadership at the very top. there were whole echelon of subordinate leadership complicity in these activities
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that are still paramount. i find that stunning. this is an organization that is rotten to the court. this is an organization that has conducted itself, best way to describe it is a culture of incompetence and not corruption. and if this was a military organization and fininvest to nation would have occurred, not only with the uniform code of justice have been used fairly dramatically they would have been relieved of. would have been calm. this organization -- i am a combat veteran and i can tell you, does not reflect the values
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of our military. they do not honor our military and their sacrifices and they need to go. so i am asking you what actions are being taken to change the leadership at every level to get rid of these people who have done these things and start over again? >> if i may, in fairness to the work force if they were not trained to do the job. we will fall upon that. they were not trained. and will give an example of one of the supervisors leave recently sent to the the a training center. it was the first time he was sent to training in 20 years of employment at the cemetery. there were not standard or procedures and they were not held accountable. they're giving each and every one of the work force to pull to
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do the job correctly. >> you are saying these things are ok that occurred. you're defending the actions that were taken by this work force? are you not? >> i'm not defending the mistakes that were made. >> but it is a okay what they did. we can explain it away. is that what you are saying? >> that is not what i'm saying. >> that is what i am hearing. >> may i take part of that question? it is not okay. it is not acceptable. if there's any criminal wrongdoing, investigation provides recommendations about incompetence and misconduct -- >> we know that is bare. >> we will address it. a blind eye will not be turned and people will be held accountable. but the employees were not provided leadership. those of you who are combat veterans, no leadership.
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no guidance. no direction. no training. it is a difficult and challenging situation. but i can assure you with 100% confidence under our watch they not reflect the service of our veterans. if it is a performance issue it will be addressed. >> i can tell you the leadership imc in here at arlington couldn't leave chart -- starving to stage all but that is not the issue. every marine has basic values. understands the basic mission and what you are telling me is these people were so incompetent tours so poorly led that they didn't even understand what they were supposed to be doing. is that correct? >> we need to change culture. [talking over each other] >> we need to change that culture with a culture of
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professionalism and honor our veterans and we do then individually and personally by setting that standard. that is what is happening today. >> you don't honor veterans and their families by leaving people in place that have decreased their memory. you get rid of them and bring in people that have the integrity, without supervision that surly can independently perform their job and understand, understand the sacred nature of that ground. because obviously the culture of arlington today does not understand that. that is a tragedy. i just don't see -- maybe we need another change in leadership at the top because i
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don't think you get it. i don't think you get it. i don't think you get how these families are affected by judge don't think you get it. that is what i am hearing today. you don't get it. you really fundamentally at the end of the they don't care that your bureaucrats in place. we need to our other these veterans. we need to honor the families. we need to honor the sacred ground of arlington and we need leadership that respects that. i yield back. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i think both of you for coming here again today. many of my colleagues may not know, the chairman had a visitor earlier. in mid march, understand my
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colleague's frustration but also know that there's a reason why these people are here. because of precisely what you are very upset about and what we're all frustrated about. just to touch on that we touched on that when i met with you out there but has there been any dramatic turnover in the workforce since you to compositions? >> since we have taken over we have had 15 individuals who have retired or transferred to other positions but we have also as part of the manpower survey, there were 57 more people we needed to run the cemetery effectively and efficiently. we managed to hired 22 more individuals. we have 24 active recruitments on the street to bring the new team to run arlington. >> of your knowledge since you were on an interim basis or
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permanent, any incident like this happened under your watch? >> what coincident? >> performance issues? >> issues that we would have with burials or loved ones noticing things. that have been created under your watch. >> we had two incidents of being miss assigned. >> and that is -- we spoke of part of your process of setting up these parameters and trying to go to a digital system where it is more at your fingertips and less paper involved. how is that process going? how quickly are you moving? i don't know if other members know that most of the record out
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there are are in the card catalog system. is basically ancient. i know you are addressing that but phyllis in on how that is moving forward. >> that procedure is moving forward. what we are doing is that is part of the accountability we are doing by the public law. we are going to reese can't all of our records. we are tying that to a digital flight over of each and every gravesite so we truly will have a digital process for our recordkeeping. if i could go back to the question about the mistakes that happened the new standards and procedures that we have in place, the work force when they made that mistake immediately notified the chain of command that there was a switch in the two grave sites so the procedures we are putting in
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place are working because the work force when they made a mistake came forward to the leadership. i don't know if you want to expand on that. >> the missassignment of the grave sites. the leadership was not trusted. it was all part of the tongue inspector general's report. they said they made a mistake and even though the new procedures were new and had been trained for those procedures and made the mistake they came forward. i let myself personally know. we corrected the mistakes. >> thank you very much. with what has happened out there, living under a microscope, is very ambitious undertaking and i wish you all the best. we have to do this because it is
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true for our heroes. >> >> thank you for paying attention to this important issue. what took place at arlington and how we get this right, folks at the table are new to the positions and they are charged with trying to make things right. i like my colleagues and the american people were appalled that the lapse taking place and how remains were not properly handled. wrong gravesite burials, totally unacceptable. we have an obligation not only to support our war fighters and our veterans but the ultimate sign of respect is how we treat our soldiers at end of their
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lives and how their remains are properly handled after words. i am grateful we are paying attention of to this issue. and arlington national cemetery around the country, to understand -- can you give me the pros and khans continuing to have jurisdiction over oversight to basically operate control of arlington national cemetery. and to transfer jurisdiction to
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the va. >> until recently, responsible for those national cemeteries, they are highly maintained with a dedicated work force. it is currently operated and maintained by the same consistent standards. arlington national cemetery is something the chairman spoke to with his question. can we stand down like an aircraft carrier, betaken in, not an option. we have families, burial, constant basis. arlington is one of the busiest national cemeteries in the united states if not the entire world. and 3,000 ceremonies as
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dignitaries pay their respects. and additionally washington d.c. and arlington national cemetery is one of the most visited tour starts we average over four million businesses to the history to pay their respects. these complexities are challenging and very real. the families we have done with, we don't get feedback on a daily basis when they come in and out. through difficult times they are encouraging us to fix the problems. the families we met and spoke with -- passionately and adamantly, they are under the
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army and not become the national cemetery. and lastly i believe based on being underground dealing with these issues that the army has the resources, has the commitment to fix past mistakes and operate in the national cemetery effectively into the future. >> if i can at the mistakes that happened in arlington being broken, the army needs to fix it. the army needs to fix the issues that happened in the past. and make the decision on if arlington, which i agree with because of the uniqueness of all of these things that it should
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be a it dod run cemetery. >> thank you for your answers. this committee takes the responsibility of getting things right very seriously. thank you again for my colleagues to participate in this hearing and folks at the table. you are charged with getting things right at arlington and i look forward to continuing to work with you. no greater sign of respect that and how we treat our soldiers at the end of their lives and final in tournament. we want to provide the ultimate respect. >> we appreciate you joining us today. a couple follow-up questions. you talked about discrepancies.
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you identified how many discrepancies exist and is there a plan of action to address those? >> we checked all of the records of the grave site, we may have potential discrepancies. we addressed those discrepancies and has stated before, if we find a discrepancy, we contract families. >> the entire cemetery to discovered the continent and magnitude of discrepancies. >> we have public law. and december 22nd this year, put the plan and starting effort to do just that. >> expect to comply by
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december 22nd. >> we will do our best to comply by that date. >> i would say you could accomplish it. i want to ask, a wide scope of discrepancies. have you contemplated putting a panel of experts from other areas for an independent look at what you face, the identification remains operational issues, and internally, a weekly basis for what is going on out there? >> we are in the process of nominating for the arlington
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commission. members nominated and they're actually on board. secretary mccue has directed that and that is what we are using the independent commission for. i recommend other reviews of her doing all we need to do. >> the intent -- independent commission is looking at existing operations but will they also look at discrepancies in the past and what should be done to fix those discrepancies and will they also look at the problem operationally with conduct and personnel. >> those are probably very good agenda items, to look at or recommend issues we have other commissions look at. >> is there a date for the commission started its work?
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>> we are putting together the nomination packages and forwarding from through the process and i don't know when all of those will be approved but we're doing our best to get it done in the next several months. >> we would like more specificity on that. the urgency is before us. the public wants to see things done. and the commission secretary put in place. it will certainly be very important. the efforts that need to be taken and looking at all of the past employees. if there was significant wrongdoing. i don't want to prejudge people buttocks' donnelly looking at this, appears to me there was a
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oversight or mistakes being made, this type of action and behavior if it is not criminal sure seems that way. , more definition about where the ig is when they hope to come to make conclusion. i hope this isn't an effort where this is a marathon where they just try to push this into the future and hope the issue will go away because i assure you the issue is not going away. >> we get it that it is not going away. secondly, we owe you an answer. my belief is he will take it wherever it goes and if criminal activities identified will be turned to the criminal investigators to work through
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the process. if it is military people and do the code of military justice, on title 18 end through the justice department tour tourney's office. >> we can't hope to get something definitive. >> it will be number one on my agenda. >> we would like to hear from them and we will be spinning some questions for the record and asking that they respond in a short time period. i want to follow up on mr. robonaut at -- langevin have a question. we have a lot of calls from veterans who said the cemetery may be better run for a variety of reasons. i respect mr. hallinan's view.having come to the arlington side. the question always comes up the army have mission is winning
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wars. with the problem that occurred the question then becomes are we better off going to the va especially magnitude of the cemetery's they manage to look at how to reestablish faith and trust at arlington. i wouldn't expect anything but to say the army can do the job but i also want to -- professionally both of you have seen operations in the va and the army. obviously there are some ideas that keep it in the army but i want to get your thoughts, what strength you see the va bringing to the table, they run their facilities. i want to put that in context to understand what might still be lacking at arlington. >> if i could start on that one.
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right now i think if we were to transition today to the of the a i think the turmoil that would cause at arlington will impact veterans and their families to a great extent. what we really need to do is put together those standards and procedures and fix the issues and make the determination where arlington should go. >> mr. hallinan? >> the office should fix the problem. we should restore faith and trust of the families and it can be made by this body or love of committee of body to send the correct course of action but the here and now we need to move
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forward. >> can you clarify when you said changing to the veterans administration might cause turmoil for veterans and family? >> one of the things mr. hallinan and i experienced in implementing new changes and standards and procedures and getting the work force to adapt to the new accountability we are doing if we were to take the work force we have now tend to put a new leadership team in there would create turmoil and chaos that would impact our veterans and their families and the services we provide at arlington. >> there's a level of incompetence beyond what has been done? you have got to be kidding. you can't be serious about that. the united states army is an organization that has demonstrated such a level of incompetence in the management of arlington that it needs to step aside and let the veterans
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administration come in hand lead can serve the veterans and their families can end this turmoil. i yield back. >> i want to follow up with one additional question. you talk about making sure you are identifying these issues going forward make sure you are taking care of them. in context of doing 27 burial the day. mike question is this. it seems like in that context you would want a team that would implement these improvements taking of these discrepancies and it is great to say we're dealing with 27 burials but if you are serious about getting this done are there plans putting in place implementation to say your job is to do nothing but fix the past wrongs and make sure there is 100% certainty in the identification and location of remains to get a paper system in an additional form and we met several members of the army working on that.
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will we have the bifurcated process, implementation to right past wrongs? >> we're putting together a task force headed by a colonel who was a signal officer to address the accountability aspect of the cemetery. >> one issue i would like to add on to what we were talking about before which is sharing of information and skill. maybe we should have some army employees go off and work at the end employees and have some the employee's come and we talked about the need for a military officer to be assigned at arlington and that gets to what mr. kaufman was talking about that we need some people and if we could get men and women officers who survived iraq and afghanistan to help us make sure
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we do the right thing that would be something we want to do. i will work with ms. condon and see if we make that happen. >> if i may add to that when we did in in an tower structure we did add military spaces to our structure and it has truly made all of the difference in how arlington is operated when you have has colonel quote fog when you have a lieutenant colonel who is actually calling in his military fashion and telling you you have an issue so that is one of the improvements that is very important in arlington. >> any other questions? i want towell i want to conclud thanking the witnesses for coming today. we are going to place great attention on the efforts there at arlington. i hope that you will pass on to the secretary and the army inspector general that we missed
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having them here today. and we are going to continue to place a focus on this issue. again, to make sure that there is no question left at arlington that any family has with the location or identification of remains there. i think that is critical. and i want to close with a quote from colonel koch in his testimony. i think it's very compelling and the best way to close and to denote the challenges ahead. colonel koch said this. he general and we missed having we have more than one and the soldier. we want to go back to having only one to of the unknown. thank you for joining us. i want to remind committee members you have 14 days to submit additional questions we will submit to the army for their answers. we look forward to having some quick responses to those questions as we submit them to you. with that the subcommittee is adjourned.
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] ..
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>> now supreme court justices anthony kennedy and stephen breyer testifying about their budget for 2012.
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topics include renovations to the supreme court building and security for the high court and federal judges in general. this hearing is an hour and a half. >> good morning. the hearing will come to order. welcome, justices kennedy and breyer, and thank you all so much for being here today. you both testified before the committee several times, and we appreciate your willingness to be with us again. please give my regards to justice thomas. and mr. womack as well. it seems strange he's not here this year but anyway, we appreciate so much that you all are here, and look forward very much to meeting with you. and we will do our best to meet your resource needs this year. an independent judiciary trusted
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by all citizens and commit to fairly and expeditiously resolving difficult and controversial questions is fundamental to our nation. although the supreme court budget has not large in comparison to other federal programs, i am pleased you're here today because outside the confirmation process, today's hearing is one of the few instances where we actually get to interact with the judicial branch. it is in my opinion a worthy interaction, and as we recognize and respect the prerogatives of each branch. as you all know the committee is working to reduce overall nonsecurity domestic spending to fiscal year 20 -- 2008 level and we will ask you all if there are any areas of your budget that could be reduced. but also at the same time be sure that we will make certain the court has the resources it needs to fulfill your constitutional responsibilities. justice kennedy and justice breyer, i look forward to
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hearing from you about the resources necessary for the operation of our nation's highest court as well as any thoughts you have regarding our nation's courts as a whole. now let me recognize my good friend and colleague, joe cerrado. >> thank you so much, and congratulations on the cardinals. >> thank you. we finally have hit our stride. now we need to do is learn how to pitch and we will be in good shape. [laughter] >> don't get used to it. it may fall apart. thank you, madam chair. i also like to warmly welcome justice breyer and justice kennedy back before the subcommittee. sing as they both been here before i must really commend them knowing what they may be in for. as i said in past years this is one of the rare opportunities to our two branches to interact. because of this, our questions sometimes range beyond strict appropriations issues. as our nation's highest court, many of us look to you for important insights into issues
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affecting the federal judiciary as a whole. there's no question these are difficult budget times. however, as we look forward for savings we must be careful not to affect the ability of our federal judiciary to hear cases and dispense justice in a fair and timely matter. we must also be sure to provide the supreme court as both the final authority our constitution and the most visible system of our system of justice with sufficient funds to take not just your judicial functions, but your public information functions as well. we look forward to your testimony, and i joined a chairwoman in having you please bring our warmest regards to justice thomas who i know loves to come to these hearings. and, of course, as a person who represents the bronx new york, a special hello to sonia sotomayor. we are very proud of her in my congressional district i was born when her parents were born
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in puerto rico and we take great pride in her ascension to the supreme court. thank you so much. >> speaketh justice sotomayor, she may be playing on our congressional softball team this year, just so, you know. that way you will have to come. to working and root us on. i know she and a couple -- she and a couple of the other cabinet secretaries who are female have indicated a desire to play on the team. >> talk about the branch is getting together. i'll have to show up. >> i would now like to recognize justice kennedy. if you would be so kind as to keep your comments to five minutes or under we'll have more time for questions. thank you so much. >> chairwoman emerson -- are we on? i assume it's on. members of the committee, it's a privilege to appear before you with my colleague justice breyer. the chief justice and all of my colleagues send greetings to
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you. we have lunch together tomorrow and they will be pleased to hear that you send them warm regard. you mentioned the independence of the judiciary. we talked often a separation of powers and checks and balances of interchangeable terms. we use them, they have a different thrust. separation of power means each branch of the government has powers that are its own. he a power of the purse, the judicial power, the president, and so forth checks and balances presumes that the branch is can't be completely separate. we have to interact at some point. and one is when we present to you our budget. our budget request. and it is the time at which you can inquire about our operations to make sure that there are efficient. the court by tradition are
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cautious, prudent, and it's always been our tradition to be extremely careful in the budget request that we submit to the congress. and i can assure you that the chief justice went through the budget recommendations of our own staff, with great care before we presented the budget request for fiscal 2012. many of those staff our principal offers -- officers are here today with justice breyer enemy. jeffrey minear who is counselor to the present. kevin cline who is director of budget of personnel, pamela talkin, the marshall of the united states supreme court, william suter, the clerk of the court, and kathy arberg, our public information officer. i might say that we have a staff working under principally jeffrey minear and kevin cline
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who talks a regular basis with your staff. this is an oversight function in itself. and my understanding is that your staff has been actually helpful and cooperative, and madam chairman, if you could extend our thanks to your staff. our budget request for fiscal 2012 is a reduction, if you take an assumed budget for fiscal 2011 and we worked very hard at the reduction because we are quite conscious of the fact that the government must be extremely careful in its stewardship of the taxpayers dollars. our budget request for this year, for fiscal 2012, is 75 million, $500,000. that is a reduction of $706,000 from the assumed budget in
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fiscal year 2011. even with the assumed reduction we have been able to enable us to astra 12 additional positions for the police. we actually need more than that for police. we need probably double, and we need other personnel. but we havecome and lie the budgetary constraints, can find a request to that. that is urgent. we have a command center that has to be manned 24 hours a day. it's cost effective not to pay overtime. and our police work as you know is becoming much more sophisticated. our court has its own website. i can tell you about that later if you're interested, which has to be operated 24 hours a day. and so we do need those extra
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positions. we are going to ask next year, next fiscal year, for a small amount to investigate the possibility of having a role and personnel functions contracted out to another agency of the government. we can't use the defense department or hhs or congressional payroll mechanism. we are too small suite of an outside contractor but we find that there are certain government agencies that are also quite small that have a program that we can use, and that will cost some money for startup and investigation but a long-term, it will save money. we are about seeing the end of the courthouse modernization renovation project.
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it has gone way over time, but it is within budget. there will be claims on both sides as happens with a long project, but pinning the outcome of those claims it looks like we are in budget and construction people will be out of the building site i think by around 830 time and then landscaping can begin and the court building which has been undergoing this renovation since 2004 will once again be open. i think i conclude my remarks. >> thank you, justice kennedy. justice breyer? >> okay? let's go ahead and we will start the questions. and i know you'll be very happy to have the construction were completed. it's one of the questions that i want to ask is because, when i have so many constituents who come to washington, their first
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time to this city, and this is the time of year they are visiting. they have asked about the front door of the supreme court. and i also know that there was concern raised by some members of the court and also some of our colleagues with regard to the fact that you're closing the front, that you're closing its main door. but then again, tragic incidents like that which happened lash at the courthouse in las vegas, at the pentagon, more recently the tragedy in tucson remind us of the importance of security. it's my understanding though that visitors can climb the steps to the main entrances, still can exit the building from the entrance. and i further understand the new visitors screening process was contemplated and funded during the modernization process. when we all know both the white
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house and the capitol have elaborate screen processes and there's no reason why you all should not as well. justice kennedy, can you describe the process the court used in the citing to change it the visitors screening procedures? and then a couple of other questions along that line, our visitors still welcome to climb the steps to the main entrance? can exit using the main entrance? and then i'll ask justice breyer for any comments you might have on the. >> there is a symbolism going up to the steps to the supreme court. to make sure it is open. during the cold war than just after the cold war when i had visitors from eastern europe, they were amazed our courts were open. of course, they're open. as part of the reconstruction of the court, renovation of the court, we have actually some
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experts on exhibits and visitors, and they found that the aging to the court which is an air-conditioned, which is a stifling in the summer, quite unwelcoming. the minute the visitors went in to the great hall we had touchscreen devices in the great hall of the supreme court if the restrooms were on either side. it was just not a welcome or dignified entrance for visitors. quite apart from security. then when we look at security, the security people said there's no way you can do this and we agree with that. it's classified. millions of dollars on an updated security facility so that they enter under the steps. when you go in to the court now
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at the ground level, it is slightly confusing for the visitor because some visitors don't know if they can go upstairs and see the courts. so we're working on new brochures, signage and so forth. so that it will continue to be a good experience. but it just so far as the looks of the great hall, it's greatly improved. quite apart from security. and from security is mandatory. >> i appreciate that. you also mentioned -- justice breyer, you have any comments? >> well, i will comment. we have many different -- we don't go -- they are difficult and there are two sides to the question and this is one of the questions were in my mind it was a close and difficult question. and as you pointed out during this week administration on one side, and was that is the
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traditional idea people should be able to walk up the steps and go into the room. so we disagree. i thought we should have left it open. i read the same papers, and others with the same papers and came to the conclusion that we should close it off for people coming up. and i'm glad i wrote the paper because my believe is i don't want it to get lost if eventually. things will calm down i hope and eventually at that time the security needs to diminish and eventually at that time i hope it will be possible for every american to walk into that process, walk out the steps and walk into the building. that's why i wrote it. >> thanks. now, justice breyer, you and justice thomas last year, and justice kennedy discussed this briefly in his remarks about the
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need an action may a very compelling argument for additional police officers at the supreme court. and i think when we had last year during doing we never anticipated that the fiscal 2011 budget process would be dragged out until today. but nontheless, it has far longer than i know our co-chair ranking member, mr. serrano, and i had to pick the one again you'll have proposed for 12 additional police officers to operate your new police, your modern police command center, and also and to enable you to secure additional entry ways once the modernization is completed. so can you all explain how this new command center is going to improve security at the court? >> our court is open 24 hours a day because we have our website is always up. our law clerks, i tell my law
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clerks one works until 2:00 in the morning. and so the law clerks are there late in evening. we have eight acres of ground which have to be protected. i number of our officers now have to spend time learning about the site, cybersecurity threats and so forth. and that's part of the command center. the command center has to be man and it should be manned by more than one person. we think it's unproductive and not a sound cost responsibility to pay overtime again so that's why we need passionate actually are people said we needed 25 and the chief justice and the staff went over and we can live with it. we do consider the 12 urgent, and it's in the context where as i've explained again, if you assume fiscal 2011 as a
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baseline, of a reduction of some $706,000. even with -- it often takes -- had to go through special training and we had to implement them. so the 12 will be quite workable. >> thank you. can you tell me without, to the extent you can say it in public, as the shooting in tucson resulted in any changes in your protection when the justices are away from the supreme court building? >> let me just say this since you mentioned it. the ninth circuit is my circuit. i was on that circuit court and i'm not circuit justice for that. chief judge john roll was one of the fine judges in the training system. we know who are good trial judges are. he was one of them. he had a marvelous background. he was on the criminal rules
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committee with justice breyer. and would be called by judges from around the country if there was a particular problem. and that shooting left his wife and three children. he was the chief judge of the district of arizona is a single district. the judges that picked up right where they left off, in part because of the commitment that he shows. our judges are among the most dedicated, principled public servants in the world. and it's urgent for the congress to make provisions so that we can continue to attract to our bench practitioners who are preeminent in the practicing bar. now, anytime there's an incident like that, we take a second look
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at our procedures. we have threat assessment going on at all times. again, that's part of what are police force does. and we are always aware of security threats. >> justice breyer, do you have any comments? >> i agree. >> thank you very much. mr. serrano? >> thank you so much. we are always very careful on the house floor, or in committee hearings, never to speak to anyone in the audience. so i will be very careful about that rule and simba say that some visitors to this building should be aware of what's happening today which is a unique situation. we know the supreme court is this body of men and women who interpret our constitution and make so many important decisions that affect all our lives are at the supreme court is also a place where people get hired and
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salaries have to be paid, and the building itself is a tourist attraction. so to sum, this hearing may seem a little different than what you expect, but it is that other part of legislating and of appropriating what you have to make sure that those places which are a part of our society and our government such as the white house and this capitol building and the museums and all the other things, but the supreme court, so issues of whether the door was open or not are very important and going up the steps are very important and they take on a new significance. and we all in a bipartisan fashion want to make sure that the building is in good shape and that the tourists who come there get to see the proper presentation, and that it is something we can be proud of. as we are. we have to make sure that happens all the time. notice how i did that without speaking to anybody in particular more directly, right?
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as well you know later today we will vote on finishing the fy 2011 process at last. hopefully. for salaries and expenses the supreme court budget has held last year's level of $71.8 million. this level sufficient for your staffing needs? >> my understanding, and i'm going to look at our expert after answer the question, is we can live with it, 2011 can but what we requested in 2012. yes. >> that starts tomorrow, that fight. so what you are telling us, it may be okay what we do today, but tomorrow you need some other things. .co officers, the police officers that were mentioned is this part of a larger need for
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security, not on at the supreme court but the courts throughout the nation? i mean, the incident at arizona was one where a judge was stopping by a local congressional event. but we know in the past there have been issues in recent years where the security and the safety of judges throughout our system have been threatened. what are the security issues, if any, at the court? again, within those things you can tell us in public. >> remembered that the federal courts have the responsibility to adjudicate criminal prosecutions. we have one last fiscal year. we had 100,000 people indicted in the united states district court. these people are in organized crimes come in drugs and so
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forth. then there's the correctional population for which the courts have a lessened responsibility, but still some ongoing responsibilities. and this population alone means, because of witnesses and threats and so forth, that we must be very, very careful in the united states district courts. the responsibility for security is generally divided into two parts. there are court security officers hired in the various districts, just like we have our own supreme court police. and there's the united states marshal service operate under the justice department. we have constant studies and recommendations from those agencies. that's one reason my court has construction come it's so expensive. talking about a courthouse, a courtroom, truck truck or a master of four entrances. one for the judge, one for the jury, one for the defendant in custody, one for the public.
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well, that sounds simple enough. but if you have a multiple courtroom, then it gets extra in the coveted. and so the security drives the cost not just personnel but construction. >> i would add one thing. i don't like to admit this but for more than 16 years and during that time, i think our court police because that's our responsibility, we have court police. that in charge of our court police. i've always found them to be excellent. there's never been a moment in that time that i have experience anyone feeling nervous or that i've experienced any lack of efficiency, and the public i think we ask to them well. and so i would say from my own personal experience that the management of court police by the supreme court and people they have chosen to do that have
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done very well. >> recently there have been several proposals to apply judicial conference's code of judicial conference to the supreme court justices, and to make recusal decisions by the justices more transparent to the public. currently the code of judicial conduct applies to all of the federal judges but is only advisory supreme court justices. do you have any thoughts of these proposals? deeply the code of judicial conduct should apply to the supreme court justices or are there good reasons not doing so? >> i'll let my colleague, justice breyer, comment and comment and add his own insigh insights. the code of conduct does apply to the judges in the sense that we've agreed to be bound by them. those rules are public, and if there is some question that we haven't complied with the
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letter, the spirit of those rules, there can be comment about that. of course, the court has to follow, follow rules of judicial ethics. that's part of our oath, part of our obligation of neutrality. and so far as binding, legal or constitutional dissidents or problems, those rules are made by the judicial conference of the united states, which our district and appellate judges. and we would find it structurally unprecedented for district and circuit judges to make rules to the supreme court judges have to fall. so there's a legal problem in doing that. i really think there is no problem at all, and since the resolution we have agreed to be bound by those, also bound by
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the ethics and government statutes for conflicts of interest and so forth. >> the answer to question should judges be bound by the same rules of ethics, i think you just. but second different question is does that mean you should legislate it? they are i think the answer is no. the reason i get the two different adjective because i personally have seven volumes of ethics rules, the same that every district judge has, right in my office. when i find it difficult mission i go to those volumes, tried to apply them exactly as a district judge would and i have people who might call for ethics experts, really, if i find it difficult problem, who sake why not legislate? the only reason not to legislate, i suppose, if one is a kind of theoretical get into a problem with can you legislate and where on the supreme court these people love to debate, and i loved one have such a question of what is the power light, not
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to answer the question and to go on to something else because i think it produces heat and not be too much like. the other reason i think it perhaps never happens anymore but when i worked on the staff of the senate, sometimes a bill which we thought was perfect would get to the floor of the senate and the words they came out didn't seem to be quite the same words that went in. and so i did not always what was going to happen when legislation started. but those are rather detailed technical, and they're not real objections. your basic question is right, and i think it is follow i think all the judges do what i do which is we do follow the rules. they do apply. some of its gotten around they don't, they do. i applaud him and i would add one other thing. it's a different thing which i discovered being a supreme court justice in respect of ethics and disqualification than a district court or court of appeals. when i was in a court of appeals or district court, and a tough
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question came up i was a i would take myself out of the case. who cares? go find somebody else. but you can't do that on our court. so you have to think about it in a different way, and you have to remember you also have a duty to sit because there's no one to replace me if i take myself out. and that could sometimes change the result. so i have to think long and hard in a way i didn't have to think long and hard on the court of appeals spent if i just might add, justice breyer, we have one of us recused from the case could come out 4-format can we we've wasted everybody's time. there could be a criminal conviction automatically affirmed. and so we do have special. we do have any judicial congress of the united states the committee code of conduct, and i served, i think there were five of us, but served on the committee or more years than i like to remember. and we get that committee is
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very hard-working committee that it gets requests from judges setting forth what the ethical problem is. the judges in mid-trial he or she has invested years and years of time. suddenly there's a marriage and family and is a conflict of interest because a new spouse owns some stock. the judge has to leave after investing years in the litigation, those are the kinds of things we try to answer. and the committee is open and receives questions from us. we can ask for advice from the committee on codes of judicial conduct, and we do ask for the. >> madam chairman, let me just close by saying i would accept both of your statements that you're very careful and the court is very careful how to deal with these things. so i guess the next question, not for me to ask, is why i do not proposals floating around, what has happened recently that has had people ask these
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questions like they've never asked before? >> one thing i think is just a guess, is that somehow people got the idea that we don't apply these same seven volumes. that's just a wrong idea. and i think that came from a fact that they are not legally binding on us in the sense that they might in a court of appeals. that was written about in the newspaper anybody thought that was so. but i think that's what happened, and i suppose also always, not always, almost always, there's some controversial thing going on. and the reason it is more controversial in our court is, one, we are more visible, and two, we do have this duty to sit which can make the question of answering the ethics question more controversial. so i think those two things
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combined, and that's just my guess as to why this is going around. >> thanks so much. thank you, madam chairman. >> mr. womack? >> thank you, madam chairman. and i want to thank the justices were not on being here today but for your service to our country. it is an honor, a true respect her of separation of powers, and branches of government getting all the way back to my civics classes as a new freshman in this new congress. i'm honored to sit up here today and to engage in conversation. justice breyer, particularly to you, thank you for your trip to arkansas last week. i know i appreciate it very much but i speak for all arkansans in thanking you for exporting, if you will, yourself and your knowledge and your perspective to the people of the great state of arkansas, and i thank you for
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that. as i told you in conversations before the committee hearing this morning, i am particularly interested in security having a wife who has spent the better part of 30 years as a trial court assistant in arkansas at the circuit court level, and fully recognized the importance of security. and i notice in your 2012 budget request it's for the 12 officers. and i think if i read correctly, that there has been to mistreat a higher need but that 12 has been the number that we settle on for 2012. is it adequate? given the circumstances, the times in which we live, the recent issues in tucson, is it adequate? >> our experts tell us that our own staff, they say it will be
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adequate. as we train and implement these officers can maybe they'll find we need more, but the 12 is what we can absorb and what we need now. >> given the fact that training and equipping officers in this line of work is a little different than what i'm accustomed to as a former mayor, developing police officers at the municipal level, but is there a revolving door so to speak? because i want us to be very careful that we're not investing large sums of money into training and equipping of officers only to prepare them for the next line of duty in some other organization. are we pretty good at keeping our folks? >> my answer will be anecdotal but i've asked about it. we are good about it. when they do leave, they go generally to other government security agencies. we just lost one of our fine officers to the united states marshal service.
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so capital investment that the government made continues to produce results. >> i find it comforting that in the discussion about the entryway to the supreme court, the difference of opinion at the court, on the court itself of what to do, not what to do is comforting that joe, we're not the only people that disagree from time to time on matters of importance that yankees-cardinals discussions that take place in the well of the house. it's good to know that they, too, have some division from time to time. madam chairman, i have no further questions again, it's an honor to be here with two of our justices. >> thank you so much, mr. womack. >> thank you very much, madam chairwoman. it's a pleasure to see you both justices. justice breyer, you in south
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florida. i was there and it was enjoyable to listen to you speak. but i will tell you more enjoyably to be able to have a number of people ask you questions. we appreciate the. i think it's important. i'm also going to change my life questions. i do have a lot of questions but we are talking a little bit about obviously the separation of powers which is essential for our democracy, for our freedoms. as always i guess the temptation to creep into other branches of government. i know that you probably heard the judiciary sometimes believes that congress may have tendency to try to creep into what is the judicial territory, and we in congress have many times a feeling of the same thing, in particular with the administrations, the executive branch. so is there anything that congress can do to resuscitate the nondelegation doctrine
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within the judicial branch? because there are many of us who feel, and it's not new and it's not on a specific issue, that particular agencies, federal agencies, tend to try to, frankly, far exceed their congressional authority. so is there something we could be doing to resuscitate that so-called nondelegation? >> i will answer first so that administrative law of professor breyer can be thinking about your questions. it's a substantive question that is one of the most difficult questions in the law. you'll to a civics class, now here's a chart or the three branches govern, article one, legislature, article ii the executive, article iii the judiciary. was an administrative agency? doesn't make laws?
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just try violated the forest service replaced sometime and you will find that yes, they make laws. what is it? is it part judicial, part legislative? that is one of the conceptually most difficult questions in constitutional law. and i'm not indicating that agencies are not important. we can't survive without them, but it does seem to me that congress has to make it very clear what the authority of the agency is. the congressional duty in establishing the agencies to give it is, not only its response abilities, but the limits on its powers. >> i don't know if justice breyer, if you like to comment. >> i would say you're a friend and enemy. the friend is it's up to you how much power you delegate. if you want to delegate less power, delegate less power. the enemy, the enemy ice it is the enemy of us all which is
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time. the problem is if you have time to go into any agency and really understand what they are doing and really tried to figure out whether they need a power to have like something written into the statute or should be more general and cover all things of this type with this an intermediate income if you only have the time where you can do that, bit by bit and thousand of instances you have enormous power and should be able to write the perfect statute. but we are all faced with time. will are all faced with competent problem. we're all uncertain as to how much authority is necessary to delegate in order to allow those problems to be dealt with as people in the country want. and, therefore, that's the kind of almost like a cliché, and i can't be much more helpful than that cliché. >> it's interesting because i guess in a three-story couple of sub -- a couple of supreme court opinions, and also opinions can be seen as also been meddling in
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congressional authority. but yet the supreme court then thought that i guess congress was being too big. >> the panama refining and the other was scheckter. scheckter is the one that counts. they delegated a system and they thought it would get them out of the recession, depression really, where you would have committees of government, labor and business peoplecome and they set prices and they determine outputs and they really ran everything. and cardoza who was certainly, he was known as a liberal judge, he was so well known and someone wrote a letter said you are a liberal judge can you lend me $50? he made the famous -- [talking over each other] >> you said this is delegation run riot. so you're right. there are those two cases but they were reviewing decisions of
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congress and some thought that congress and the president had gone too far in those instances. >> this was a national investor recovery act to show that you are part of it and had codes of conduct for every industry. and you put up a blue eagle on your storefront to show that you are compliant. it was just not working. and really the court declared it unconstitutional i think congress breathe a sigh of relief sing when it created. but the congress that creates it. thank you, madam chairwoman,. >> in japan the way they do it is the agency consists of the parliamentary committee so it would be like the commerce committee would be on icc, a mixture of function so they know what's going on. >> thank you very much.
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mr. chote or? >> thank you, madam chairman. justices, appreciate the opportunity to have you here today, and i'm not just to bring some of the material how difficult your workload is. and to take time to come to feel to visit with us about line dancing of what we're doing here in this country is an important topic and i'm glad you're here to do it with us. i am a kansas university law grad and i want is a bug you're been there there before to give lectures. and so i appreciate that. and serving as a young attorney is a great opportunity to have you here today. i had an opportunity for eight years to serve in the kansas legislature and was the issues we dealt with there is a summit issue we're dealing with in the country which is how to fund the growing pressures on our court system. and we always dealt with a growing amount of caseloads, and the pressure of having to add additional judgeships. and many times because of budget constraints were unable to do
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so. i guess i want to just have a little discussion with you about the situation in our district courts and our courts of appeal, certainly in kansas where i am from, visiting with my local judges, you know, they are concerned about the backlog. i guess first of all, i want to get your comment on the severity of those things, and what are potential responses could be decided that initial resources and one of the issues we dealt with in kansas was we had growing areas where the amount of cases where increasing rapidly, but they were also areas where it was decreasing and the courts were reluctant to move judges from decreasing court case areas to increasing court case areas. so we are only adding where increasing and never decreasing, so is that a factor here? and just on your perspective sitting on the supreme court how has that affected your work and what would you guys be -- what
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would your advice be for congress? >> over the years the congress has been generous -- >> if i might interrupt him as he young lawyer it is always been my dream to interrupt a supreme court justice i just want to take that opportunity. >> you can avoid my hourly rate. >> i just wanted to take that opportunity to do so. i'm sure if i'm ever before to court i'm sure you will do the same. >> the congress of the united states has been prudent, farsighted, and wise and sensible in providing resources generally to the federal court. there's some problems with judicial challenge but so far as resources, the congress has given ample support to the federal courts and for its infrastructure. federal courts are one of the most efficient, admired judiciaries in the world. in the last three fiscal years bankruptcy filings have
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increased. i think it's fiscal 2009 the last i looked at it, 1,500,000 bankruptcy filings. we handle those filings. 100,000 criminal defendants appeared before the federal courts. we have generally the capital infrastructure to manage that. when we go to if foreign country or judges come here, we find that worldwide legislators and parliamentarian's are somewhat reluctant to give resources to the court if they think the judges have an easy job and they don't know why they need all these resources. what i tell those people from those countries that a functioning, efficient, transparent, honest judiciary of integrity is part of the capital infrastructure, the bankruptcy
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filings. we don't like to see bankruptcy but we handle those. as part of the recovery. so it's important for the court to be open. of course, the caseload changes. and we talk about that. we wonder, we are losing some of the major civil cases to our attention. at the judges, if the bar think that's more efficient, fine. i don't like to see us lose those cases because it takes too long to go to trial. but we are working within. the caseload is changing, more federal crimes, more federal prosecutions in immigration load. in some districts we have a serious problem. my home district of sacramento, california, is the eastern district of california. the judicial load, the average caseload for a united states district judge is about 450 cases per year per judge.
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and that's a lot but it is manageable. these judges are handling 11 to 1400 cases. you just can't do that. as judges, we need more judges, the vacancies, and the congress should authorize the judges in those districts. the western district of texas is another one. some distant filings have dropped, not much. that can be taken care of overtime. and we are in the happy position because article iii judges can be assigned to other courts. we couldn't manage in the ninth circuit without visiting judges. we had visiting judges come to take up court load. was that gender responsive? >> very helpful and it gives me an idea of how things are going. i do understand as caseload drop in certain areas that through time and i think is that kind of what you meant, that can be taken care of as opposed to reassigning judges from
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declining caseload areas to areas that are increasing? that was one of the challenges we had at the state level that we knew we could move them but it was politically too difficult. >> we do that on an interim basis but over the long term it takes care of itself. >> in terms of technology which serve as comes up and affects the courts, i wonder how much have we save by moving away from paper filings and towards electronic filing? and i will say i do not practice in federal courts are going to practice in the bankruptcy courts, and that was i think a very efficient system for the attorneys to be able to upload the document, scan them, and the federal court was a good 30 minutes away so it saved, you know, it saved on gas and time and everything. so in terms of attorneys i think it's been useful from my perspective but i wonder from the courts does that save money, and how is that progressing? >> we have seen since justice breyer and i have been on our
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court, a quiet revolution because of i.t. information technology. we have a website. we run it ourselves. we get 59 million hits a month. there is a study that i've seen, i'm somewhat skeptical of, that we are but 12th or 13th of any government agency. we get 179,000 page hits a day, page hits as we look for something specific and study. we get 179,000 of those a day. it used to be that i would read supreme court cases over the summer. and we would wait for months, maybe even more than a year for review. now there are blogs. for law professors in specialized area, information technology, information technology crimes, and the trust
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-- antitrust have blogs. within weeks, days, even as they comment on our cases. our case law is now part of the arguments that judges -- pardon me, that attorneys make to district and circuit judges within hours after we decide the case. it is very, very efficient if there's been a sea change in how accessible our opinions are. the system -- i testified before this committee, my staff told me for the 15th time, and i look at the budget in the '80s. it was half of what is now. is i.t. i thought that maybe library expenses would go down. but it doesn't at the library expenses are the same plus we have the i.t. but you have made that investment now. that is there. it is in place. it is running. it is, as i say it is a quiet
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revolution. it makes our courts very, very efficient and very effective. >> i appreciate that. how do we move from what is a great service, and clearly it's revolutionized how we utilize the information coming out of the court very rapidly, and as you describe how do we turn that into savings for the court? is there a point where we can reduce savings on the printing side as you said the budget has gone up. is there a point the investment pays off in terms of the infrastructure committee expenses? >> i thought we needed fewer books. we don't. no saving there. printing, we use have a printing press before we came to the court. the printing press in the basement. now we print opinions electronically. on paper filings, about only 2%
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of our petitions in criminal cases are granted, and they are hand written. if we scan that it would not be cost effective. but often the present will not comply with the rules and will not attach a copy of the opinion, of the highest court that affirmed his conviction. or her conviction. but rather than send the petition back, our clerks just push a button and we have it. so we are much, much more efficient. we are handling a huge falling of litigation which our old system would have cracked. so when you think about cost savings, we are more effective on a case-by-case basis already. >> thanks for your responses. madam chair, i preempted justice breyer. i yield back. >> thank you, mr. yoder. over the years you all have heard numerous high profile and
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somewhat controversial cases. and it's possible that next year you will be hearing another one, you could, with regard to the affordable care act. and so i'm curious in situations like that, regardless of whether it is that was something else, how do highly publicized and controversial oral arguments affect the course operations? and the court grounds, especially as it pertains to reporters and interested citizens. to other court business get put on hold for the day? i'm more interested in the process, not the subject, if you know what i mean. >> we have a system that has formal traditional constraints and etiquette. we follow that. we don't talk about the cases with each other until they are
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argued so that we don't have the balls. our workload is such that we really don't address -- as you know, get all of our work done every year by june 30, thank you very much, we always get 100% finished on our argued cases. and i go home and i tell myself, we solve every problem in the world. there is nothing left to say. and that we, that's the dynamic of the law. we wait until the dispute comes before us and it's only in the context of a real dispute that we determine how to elaborate and explain the legal principles that are involved. if, in fact, i mean obviously whether it's an abortion type of
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case or it's the health care law, or anything, when you ask for our hearing the oral arguments today in the court, does it require a lot more security? are the different things that you have to do? is the behavior of, you know, how the process works within the court, is it changed on a daily basis when you're not hearing a controversial argument? >> oh, i guess there's maybe an air of anticipation in the room, as you might expect. but we will hear so-called high profile case, and then between 10 and 11, and 11:00 we'll hear the next? and judges start asking questions about the next case. they said, president base,
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tradition-based formal system that enables us to go from one case to the other. >> there might be longer queues, probably will be. they will have to look around and see there see there any any problem is over, but there haven't been any processing problem. therefore, they want to see the case. >> and consequently you can still, even though you've got all eyes on this controversial case, the rest of the business of the court goes on. >> we were inside writing but it was the press taking the paper as soon as they came out and saw all the papers as he was being written. it does cause a lot of work for other people. we work along as we would along anything. but other people in the court may have to go to extra trouble. >> thank you. i am curious when you do with issues like that, whether y

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